Cake, Batter, and Bowl

Helmand Hamburgers


Way back in April, a few Boston bloggers and I had the pleasure of meeting Joanne, the hilarious voice behind Eats Well With Others, while she was in town to run the Boston Marathon. I know, I know, you’re jealous, right? She’s awesome! We enjoyed dinner at The Helmand, where I was very excited to try Afghani food for the first time. Everything was tasty, but I was especially blown away by the delicious Kaddo appetizer, which was pumpkin seasoned with sugar, served on a garlic yogurt sauce, and topped with a tomato ground beef sauce. The flavors just worked perfectly together, and I immediately thought it would be fun to twist this dish into a burger!

I settled on making spiced tomato ground beef burgers atop a sweet pumpkin and butternut squash pancake smothered in a garlic yogurt sauce. I actually waited for autumn to work on this recipe in anticipation of using pumpkin puree and shredded butternut squash in the pancakes! I also did a little research online to figure out which spices to use in the patties and ended up mixing in garlic, coriander, and turmeric. And, I discovered that dried mint is sometimes used in the Kaddo yogurt sauce, so I stirred some of that in as well. I really love how almost any dish can inspire a unique burger!

Helmand Hamburgers
Printable Recipe


Yogurt Sauce:
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried mint flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt

Sweet Pumpkin and Squash Pancakes:
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin puree
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 cups coarsely grated butternut squash
1 large egg, whisked
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons canola oil

Afghani Spiced Patties:
1/2 cup grated yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground tumeric
2 teaspoons salt
2 pounds ground beef (I used organic 85/15)

6 hamburger buns, split and toasted

To make the yogurt sauce, mix yogurt, garlic, mint flakes, and salt together in a small bowl until smooth and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the sweet pumpkin and squash pancakes, place pumpkin puree and sugar in a small nonstick stockpot over medium heat and cook for 2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved, stirring well. Place pumpkin in a large bowl and mix in grated butternut squash, egg, flour, baking powder, and salt. Divide into 6 equal portions. Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and drop 3 of the divided mounds of the pumpkin/squash mixture into the pan. Press down slightly with a spatula until pancakes are about the same size as the hamburger buns. Fry 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Repeat with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 3 portions of the pumpkin/squash mixture.

Meanwhile, make the patties, place the onion, garlic, tomato paste, coriander, tumeric, and salt in a large bowl. Gently but thoroughly mix in the ground beef and shape the mixture into 6 patties. Place patties on a greased grill pan over medium high heat and cook 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until cooked to desired doneness.

To assemble the burgers, place a sweet pumpkin and squash pancake on the bottom piece of each bun. Place a patty on top of the pancake and evenly spread the yogurt spread on top of each burger and cut side of the burger tops. Add the burger tops and serve. Makes 6 burgers.

Nutrition: 811 calories, 43.5g fat, 7.8g fiber, 38.6g protein per burger
Cost: $2.65 per burger

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